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Building Science Links

Oil-fired Heating

Oil-fired furnaces are the most popular form of home heating in Yukon; there are two primary designs of oil-fired heating systems.

Oil-fired Forced Air

An oil-fired, forced-air heating system consists of a burner fed by fuel oil from a storage tank, firing into a combustion chamber in the furnace. The hot combustion gases pass through the furnace, where they give up heat across a heat exchanger. These gases are then exhausted to the outside through a flue pipe and chimney. A circulating fan draws cool house air from the cold air return ducts over the furnace heat exchanger, where the air is warmed, then moved into the hot air ducts, which distribute the heated air throughout the house.

Oil–fired Boilers

An oil-fired boiler or Hydronic heating system consists of a burner fed by fuel oil from a storage tank, firing into a combustion chamber in the furnace. The heat exchanger warms the water flowing through it. Unlike the forced-air models, there is no fan and air filter housing with a boiler system. Instead, most boilers use a circulating pump to push heated water around the house through the distribution pipes and the radiating system. Hot water heating provides a more constant heating level which many find to be more comfortable than the cycling nature of forced air heating.

An oil-fired furnace of either type is in essence a diesel engine/appliance in your basement with the job of providing heat rather than motion. Similarly, an oil-fired appliance requires periodic maintenance to operate at optimum safety, efficiency and performance. Like a diesel engine, maintenance and service work on an oil-fired furnace should only be performed by a qualified oil burner mechanic to ensure peak performance and continued safety for your home. Improper adjustments and parts replacement can result in loss of efficiency, increased heating costs, a reduction in comfort and increased safety risks from combustion spillage and/or fire.

The checklists below are provided for use by oil burning appliance and oil storage tank suppliers and installers. Professional oil burner mechanics and technicians will already be using these checklists to ensure they do not omit critical items; and to provide you, the homeowner, with assurance that the work was done completely and properly. If your tradesperson does not have a list with them, provide it and request that it be completed.


 

Fuel Oil Tank and Furnace Checklists

Steel fuel oil storage tanks are susceptible to corrosion from water which may form inside the tank due to condensation. Over time, and in some situations- a short period of time ( less than a year), the corrosion in the oil tank may form small holes on the bottom through which oil may leak out and create an environmental hazard which can be very costly for the homeowner to remediate.

A simple test can confirm if there is water in your fuel tank. Coat the bottom few centimeters of a clean 3 meter long wooden dip-stick or pipe with water-sensing paste, (Kolor Kut) available at most hardware and building supply stores. Insert the dipstick into the tank via the fill spout until it touches the bottom of the tank, then remove it. The paste will turn color if water is present in the tank, fuel oil will have no effect on the color of the paste.


In this image you can see there is about 1.5 cm of water in the tank.

If water is detected, talk with your fuel supplier on how best to have it removed. For small amounts of water; a water-displacer/ biocide additive may be sufficient to remove the water. Adding a biocide/water displacer a couple times a year will help to keep any water inside the tank in check. Be sure your certified oil-burner mechanic inspects your fuel tank during the annual inspection of your home heating system.


 

The Home Heating System

From the tank cap to the rain cap

A complete home heating system includes: The fuel storage tank and its mounting, the fuel lines to the furnace, the fuel filter assembly, the burner appliance, the combustion air supply, the in-house heat distribution assembly (ducts), and the chimney (venting) system. Be sure to have the complete furnace system inspected annually by a qualified professional. From the fill cap on the fuel tank to the rain cap on the chimney is the complete system.

Residential fuel oil tanks are now required to meet new Building Code Standards to reduce the chance of tipping over due to ground settling and/or earthquake effects.

Advisory letter from Yukon and City of Whitehorse Chief Building Inspectors


 

Residential Fuel Tank Restraints for Yukon Communities

  • Group 1 Communities: Carmacks, Faro, Johnsons Crossing, Old Crow, Pelly Crossing, Ross River, Teslin, Whitehorse English
  • Group 2 Communities: Carcross, Dawson City, Elsa, Keno City, Mayo, Stewart Crossing, Watson Lake English
  • Group 3 Communities: Beaver Creek, Burwash Landing, Destruction Bay, Haines Junction, Silver City English

IF YOU DO EXPERIENCE A FUEL OIL SPILL: CONTACT THE SPILL REPORT CENTRE:

When a Spill Occurs
Take these steps immediately after you identify a fuel oil spill:

  1. Report the spill to (867) 667-7244, Anyone can report a spill. Collect calls are accepted - this line is monitored 24/7. 
  2. Notify the owner or person in charge of the spilled substance and any person who may be adversely affected by the spill.
  3. If you are responsible for the spill, take all reasonable measures to confine the spill.

Remediation of a spill site must be conducted in accordance with the Contaminated Sites Regulation and the protocols adopted under it. For more information, refer to Environment Yukon's Cleaning Up Contaminated Sites webpage.

Last Resort

If the person responsible for the spill does not attempt to confine the spill or to restore the site, an Environmental Protection Officer has the authority to order the responsible person to take action.

If the responsible person still does not act, the Environmental Protection Officer has the authority to ensure that the site is cleaned up, and any costs incurred will be billed to the person responsible for the spill.